Sister Wives struggle to financially support fourth wife and her three kids

It bugs me when reality show participants are shown struggling with financial issues, like on Teen Mom, because they completely neglect to mention the dough they’re making by doing the show in the first place. We learned last year Teen Mom star Amber Portwood, who was seen living in squalor and complaining about finances on the show, made around $280,000 that year.

The polygamist family that stars on Sister Wives had a whole episode last night about how they make ends meet with so many people and kids. They have four wives and only two were working at that time. Dad Kody is employed in Internet sales. Kody’s second wife, the smart one Janelle, does the family budget and makes a good salary at her job. Meri the first wife has a low-paying job but still chips in.

Janelle was saying that unemployed fourth wife Robyn and her three kids (added to the thirteen they already have) were stretching it very thin. The thing is, she was working with the old numbers for sure, the pre-TLC numbers that had them buying Walmart brand products and driving cars that break down frequently. They move to Vegas at the end of this season. While I can buy that this was their reality at that point they’re surely not worrying as much about money now.

Here’s how they pay for things:

  • Kody and Janelle make the bulk of the money, so they split the mortgage and utilities. They “work together as a family to pay for the rest of it,” according to Janelle.
  • Meri (who loses her job soon due to the publicity from the show) makes less but pays some bills as she can
  • Christine and Robyn stay home, with Kody covering for them and Janelle sometimes chipping in for their groceries
  • They have to tell their kids they can’t buy them things, so the kids will go to Kody and ask him instead.

    Janelle said she’s worried every month about paying the bills. “There’s a lot of stress involved with trying to make sure everything gets paid.”

    Christine explained that she saves money by shopping for bargains. “The way that I bring money into the family is because I save the family money… by buying in bulk, by canning.” They showed the food storage room, which was filled with giant cans and bags.

    Robyn said that she’s trying to be a caregiver. “My contribution is helping being a mom at home and that includes being the go-to girl for probably anybody and also being there to take care of the kids.” She expressed a lot of guilt over not being able to pay bills, but said she was doing her best to be valuable to the family by watching the kids.

    Janelle was pretty practical about it, and admitted she was worried about how they were going to support Robyn too. “We were struggling to keep the roof over our own heads and we were going to bring this person in and pay rent and groceries, and there was going to be no income coming in. I was worried… I am hoping that Robyn will get a job, but it has been very nice to have her home [with the kids].”

    On this episode, Janelle and Kody went off camping together, where they kind of bonded. Kody explained how all his wives were special to him, and it made me roll my eyes. “Every relationship has its own independent power and its own independent bond. In a way you have to compartmentalize your relationship with each individual wife, so you have an individual relationship with them and not a group relationship with them.”

    Janelle said that she was fine being one of four, and explained that all the kids “think their mom is the favorite [of Dad Kody]“. She added “when he’s with me, I’m the center of his universe, and my children see that.”

    Then all the wives discussed how the family works for them, because they got to do what they want (have careers or stay at home) and have enough other people helping them out in complimentary roles.

    It was a pretty low-key episode overall, and I came away with a better impression of the Browns and how they try and make it all work.

    It occurred to me that maybe Meri asked Robyn to join the family because she thought that Christine needed more help at home with the baby coming at that time. They still all have to share that one dorky guy, but they also don’t have to clean up, cook and care for separate husbands.

    There’s more conflict to come with Robyn I’m sure. She’s new and she’s still trying to fit in. It will probably take her years.


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    52 Responses to “Sister Wives struggle to financially support fourth wife and her three kids”

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    1. Christine says:

      Doesn’t the new wife get child support from her ex-husband? Nobody mentioned that?

    2. boobytrap says:

      i wonder how long it will take for robyn to get fat.

    3. Me1st says:

      I think her husband died, didn’t he?

    4. Anastasia says:

      On Teen Mom, though, I don’t believe they are paid for their participation until after the season wraps. And each girl only gets one season. So you really don’t see the effect of the money because it happens after they stop filming.

      With TLC, I do think it’s different, I think they are paid as they go along. I can’t imagine She Who Must Not Be Named with her eight, count ‘em, eight kids waiting to be paid until the end of each season, no WAY.

      I’ve never watched this show and probably won’t, because it just looks bleh. But I loved boobytrap’s question above, made me laugh. I say six months!

    5. Vicki says:

      Why is that Kody always scowling in every screen shot?

    6. the original bellaluna says:

      The amount of resentment I would harbour toward this man and my “sister wives” would make it impossible for me to allow myself to get/stay in this kind of situation.

      Well, that and my self-respect.

    7. nik says:

      to be fair im pretty sure the other two were fat when he married them

    8. Nanea says:

      They are struggling financially?

      How about getting rid of that unpractical two-seater car?

      I hope they’ve started saving money for the time when the kids will need a psychologist to help them deal with their issues.

    9. javagirl1 says:

      I came away with a better impression too. Janelle really needs to lose weight though. That is really unhealthy, I saw a treadmill in her house…

    10. Mary says:

      Aren’t these people committing a crime?
      Why are they on TV in the first place.
      It is a disgrace, TLC is becoming the freak show channel.

    11. SFRowGuy says:

      What? They’re not making enough money from their television gig?

      Good thing polygamy isn’t illegal. They’d be in big trouble.

    12. dahlia1947 says:

      Struggling financially my a%s. It could be true though. I mean can you imagine how much it costs TLC to feed all of these fatsos and their kids? lol

    13. jay says:

      All I’m learning from The Learning Channel is that I’d rather be a Child Left Behind.


    14. Kiska says:

      If they are struggling why does Kody have the flashy convertible? Priorities! Downgrade to something more efficient for a father of 16 not a swinging single bachelor.

      The women definitely keep things together and Kody just this man-child who flops around with his goofy grin and beady little eyes. He creeps me out so much!!

    15. anti says:

      i’m not really up on how it works but maybe some of these “struggling” reality show people (versus jersey shore type shows) sign a contract with some sort of delay in their salary?

      if not, they wouldn’t be struggling on the show and it would end much of the drama the shows need.

    16. GradStudentEatingHotPockets says:

      These people generally don’t bother me…mainly because I don’t care too much what they’re doing. If the kids and the wives are healthy and happy…meh.

      But they did go through some financial issues (especially when the first wife gets fired from her job), and I’m sure it’s a HUGE stressor to figure out how to feed everyone. I’m sure if we didn’t know that everything turns out well later on (like how they live in Nevada now), I think we all would be a little less harsh on their money issues.

      But ugh…Teen Mom. Words can’t even DESCRIBE what I feel about those girls. Just put the money in a trust for the babies :(

    17. miss c says:

      cry me a river. all of the kids are of school age except for the baby the third wife just had. there is no need for two stay at home moms w/ all of the kids being in school from 8-3. was robyn not working before she got married to kody? either way, when you’re in financial trouble, all parties in the marriage WORK.

    18. Hooblie says:

      We here in BC Canada are waiting for the verdict after our big poly trial. I really hope they don’t make it legal…. I dunno…. I guess a part of my just can’t wrap my head around sharing a man, and a man like that to boot!

    19. Jennifer says:

      I might gripe about how many Mountain Dew bottles my husband has lying around or the fact that he doesn’t fold and put away his clothes for a long time after I wash them but I wouldn’t want to share that with any other woman. And frankly, does anyone think any of these people look happy? I don’t.

    20. annie says:

      If you don’t want to support a big family and xtra “wives” then don’t stay in the situation-simple

    21. Baylor says:

      What they didn’t mention on the show, is that they all have filed for bankruptcy at one time or another, and that they have gotten food stamps.

    22. Lauren says:

      Some of the older teenage kids could get part-time jobs, like most kids their age, to help financially. Robyn’s son is a special needs child (autistic), and looks very challenging to raise. I don’t envy any of these woman, and Janelle just amazes me. She works very long hours, has six kids, and manages the household budget. Janelle is the most stable of them all..I don’t know how she hasn’t lost her bloody mind.

    23. Syko says:

      I only see one overweight person, am I going blind? The others are normal size people. One just had a baby, for heaven’s sake, she’s probably still carrying baby weight. Not everyone takes it off in 2 weeks like the Kardashians.

    24. Leticia says:

      Boobytrap, yeah, I was wondering the same thing!

    25. Leticia says:

      Nanea, funny comment about needing to save for kids’ shrinks. too true.

    26. sharylmj says:

      I think the reason they decided to do the show was to gain some financial freedom, besides coming out as polygamists. I agree that at the time of filming and Robin joining the family that they did have some financial issues, but I bet that is in the past now. All the wives have their own houses in Vegas… I’m sure they are doing ok now. I do like Janielle the best..

    27. jc126 says:

      Absolutely disgusting people. They should all be ground up into hamburger and fed to circus animals.

    28. Stephanie says:

      Why are these women so dickmatized by this man? They all must have zero self-respect. I’m sorry but that guy comes across as a huge douche and all of the women could do better.

    29. MeriJaan says:

      Why doesn’t Robyn work? They all should be working and contributing. Why lay all that financial burden on Kodi and Janelle? Get a J.O.B.

    30. Lee says:

      Kiska (above)…thanks for my point…if they are so badly off, why is he driving in a white Lexus convertible???

    31. Cathy says:

      Kody gives me the heeby-jeebies..I actually like all the wives..Meri’s daughter annoys me..I’d smack Robyn’s kids..the grandmothers (Kody’s mother and Janelle’s mother) were interesting (both married to Kody’s father) would that make your mother also your mother-in-law?
      Kody – sell the white car, sell the motorcycle, cut the hair.

    32. Snowpea says:

      Ok, let’s break it down. These TLC shows – this family, The Duggars and Jon & Kate – you have to understand not only is each adult paid, also each child. In addiiton, they are each of them receiving per diem. In short, it’s all a bunch of bull. I wouldn’t bet there will be much $$ left for each of the kids by the time they reach 18.

    33. jlo1982 says:

      they are creepy,and yeah sell that did he buy it in the first place?he’s a skeeze.internet sales?like what?he could get another part-time job and am i wrong for thinking a couple of them could get a mcdonald’s or macy’s job?

    34. guilty pleasures says:

      What the heck is ‘internet sales’ anyway?
      He is a tad on the sketchy side, why do so many women want to be married to him? I could see if he was some kind of special human, he’s all the way average, and is not even capable of supporting all of them-isn’t that the point of polygamy?
      Just askin’

    35. Annie says:

      He might be good in the sack…

    36. ctkat1 says:

      I watched the episode (yea, I have too much free time) and basically Robin was working and supporting herself and her children in the town where she lived (200 or so miles from the family). When she moved to marry into the family, she left her job and hasn’t been able to find a new one. So she wants to work, is trying to work, and can’t find a job.

      I’m sure that the finances in that family are tight- I too wonder why Kody needs a Lexus convertible and a Harley motorcycle (both $30,000+ vehicles) when they are completely impractical. It seems that they could save a thousand or more per month simply by selling those two vehicles and buying a used minivan.

    37. Addie says:

      When I saw these ones on Oprah, they just did not strike me as being genuine or truthful.
      All the woman seem to want that creepy guy for themselves but enjoy having the perks of someone to care for the kids and probably the fame.

    38. Granger says:

      I guess dude needs the crotch-rocket and the sports car to attract yet ANOTHER wife when he starts to get bored with these ones.

    39. I am Legend says:

      We here in BC Canada are waiting for the verdict after our big poly trial. I really hope they don’t make it legal…. I dunno…. I guess a part of my just can’t wrap my head around sharing a man, and a man like that to boot!

      Amen my fellow Canadian. I’ve said it before, but that “two consenting adults” theory shouldn’t work when the female consenting adults are indoctrined since birth to submit to some horny old creep’s will. Although I’m sure some of the financial distress for this family is fabricated you can see the implications of so many people competing for scare family resources controlled by the man.

    40. LittleDeadGirl says:

      In one way I’m put off by the whole life style because alot of them have grown up indoctrinated to be this way … but on the other hand I can see the benefits of this type of family system, sharing the work load, and just being in one big family. The sex part, I don’t know about that, but, a family like this with all consenting adults … there are worst families to have grown up in …

    41. Thomas says:

      With most polygamist families, only the first wife is legally married- therefore all of the other wives are legally single moms. Yes you guess it! They are eligible for federal and state aid! Lovely we float the bill for their deviant lifestyles!

    42. catherine says:

      Their all getting fat, except Robin & Kody. Look at Mariah. Maybe their all eating to compensate, for something else

    43. Stephanie says:

      Maybe instead of worrying about who’s getting fat, we should worry about the atrocious state of education in this country.
      It’s they’re, not their.

    44. elaameli says:

      Did anyone else notice the author pointed out shared work load as a benefit. Exactly how is it really shared? Each wife has their own kids to pick up after and Cody is only around for quality time. Their work load is increased by their lifestyle. My husband helps me around the house and I get him to myself every night. Just the way I like it.

    45. The show is entertaining and interesting,however,the kids seem unhappy and the wives seem to have a lot of anamosity towards each other.God meant it to be one man one woman.Life gets too complicated and jealousy dominates this family.